Zoo features a baby lemur, Madagascar fossa and a new beaver mural

Wednesday, April 24th, 2024

Charles Paddock Zoo, Atascadero

Baby mongoose lemur and mother.

Baby mongoose lemur born at Charles Paddock Zoo just in time for Party for the Planet

—April is an exciting month for visitors and staff at the Charles Paddock Zoo. A newly born baby mongoose lemur, a rare Madagascar fossa, and the unveiling of a new beaver mural created by Chumas artist, John Khus are new additions to the zoo.

The mural will be unveiled during the zoo’s Party for the Planet on Saturday, April 20 at 10:30 a.m. Visitors will also be able to watch the mother lemur and her baby and visit the new fossa.

The newborn lemur, scientifically known as Eulemur mongoz, spends its initial weeks clinging to its mother. The baby lemur will remain at the zoo as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) until it is ready to be transferred to another zoo for breeding, ensuring genetic diversity among the species. Due to deforestation and poaching, mongoose lemurs are critically endangered in the wild, making conservation efforts crucial. While the lemurs will remain on exhibit with the baby, they will have access to quieter areas on busy days to minimize stress and overstimulation.

Charles Paddock Zoo Atascadero

Shelby the fossa

‘Shelby’ comes to town

The Charles Paddock Zoo has announced the arrival of “Shelby,” a 13-year-old female fossa. Shelby, a Fossa Cryptoptocta ferox, came to the zoo from the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan.

The fossa is native only to the island nation of Madagascar off the coast of Africa and are the largest carnivores there. The locals pronounce the name “foo-sa” and “foosh.” Shelby loves exploring all parts of her new habitat, as the fossa are just as comfortable in trees as they are on the ground. Being the largest predator and very agile in trees, their diets mainly consist of lemurs (don’t worry, they are in a separate exhibit!), but they’ll eat anything from small mammals to fish and birds.

beaver mural at Charles Paddock Zoo Atascadero

Artist John Kush with the new mural.

‘The Beaver are my relatives’

Beavers and their critical role in ecosystems and culture will take center stage on April 20 with the unveiling of a mural crafted by Chumash artist John Khus.

Khus, whose artwork has been lauded by Chumash leaders as “striking, beautiful, unique, carrying the voices of our ancestral artists,” has showcased his talent in various Central Coast galleries. His previous work includes the “Tomol Rides Wishtoyo” mural in Cambria, California, which received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition.

“The Beaver are my relatives, as are all the animals, plants, land, water, and air. So, the importance of this mural is the same as someone might give to a family portrait or ancestral painting,” said Khus.

The mural unveiling features remarks from representatives of the SLO Beaver Brigade and the artist himself. The SLO Beaver Brigade, a local organization under the fiscal sponsorship of Ecologistics, Inc., was initiated in 2020 to raise awareness about beavers in San Luis Obispo County. and their contributions to groundwater replenishment, fire protection, and water quality enhancement in creeks and rivers.

The brigade’s efforts include process-based restoration techniques, beaver management tools, and educational programs such as river cleanups, citizen science surveys, tours, public art, and trail signage. To learn more about the Beaver Brigade, sign up for a tour, or donate to their efforts, visit slobeaverbrigade.com.

Party for the planet

The zoo is hosting a “Party for the Planet” event on Saturday, Apr. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This family-friendly event focuses on natural resource conservation and the protection of global and local wildlife. Activities include interactive adventures, hands-on activities, exhibits by sustainability-conscious businesses, and educational demonstrations on topics like water conservation and beekeeping. Food trucks will be onsite for refreshments.

The zoo has over 200 animal species, many of which are part of global conservation programs. Unique species such as fossa, red pandas, Malayan tigers, lemurs, and meerkats can be observed, along with various mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. The zoo gift shop offers unique gifts, refreshments, and strollers for visitors’ convenience. Located adjacent to Atascadero Lake Park, the zoo provides an ideal destination for a day of education, fun, and relaxation.

The Charles Paddock Zoo is located at 9100 Morro Road in Atascadero. Tickets are $13 for adults age 13+, $11 for seniors age 65+, $8 for children 5-12, $5 for children 3-4, and free for kids two and under. Admission to “Party for the Planet” is included in general admission. For hours and more information visit charlespaddockzoo.org or call (805) 461-5080.


About the Author